. In 2022, the covid pandemic and the myriad crises it spawned may start to recede. Even in a best-case scenario, though, a tsunami of new challenges—from the failure of climate action to the erosion of social cohesion—is within sight. Addressing them will need leaders to adopt a different governance model. When our institutions are well governed, we pay little attention to them. They are invisible supports for the economy and social order. And ‘good enough’ governance in the second half of the 20th century enabled income growth and social peace.
Once the pandemic ends, we will need a new governance model. Governance 4.0 would differ from its predecessors. First, it must replace today’s short-term management with long-term strategic thinking. A focus on problems such as the pandemic, socioeconomic crises and people’s mental health must be complemented with action to tackle climate change, reverse biodiversity loss and environment damage caused by human activity, and address related challenges such as involuntary migration.
Second, we must replace the tunnel vision and top-down approach of the past. As we live in a complex and interconnected world full of discontinuities, the roles of each stakeholder in society must change. Business can no longer ignore its social and ecological impact, while governments can’t act as if they alone have all the answers.
Third, the emphasis on a narrow conception of economics and short-term financial interests must cease. Instead, the primacy of society and nature must be at the core of any new governance system. Finance and business are vitally important. But they must serve society and nature, not the other way around.
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